WMU Contributes to Oil Spills Workshop for Iraq

On 25 May, WMU participated in a workshop on “Oil Spills Status: Environmental Impact and Control” organized by the General Company for Ports of Iraq and the Ministry of Transport of Iraq, through its Southern Environmental Protection and Improvement Office, part of the Basra Environment Directorate, in collaboration with the Marine Science Center at the University of Basra.

The workshop brought together governmental and scientific experts from Iraq and the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME), which coordinates efforts of the eight littoral States (Bahrain, I.R. Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates) towards protection of the marine and coastal environment and ecosystems in the ROPME Sea Area against marine pollution and stressors that might be induced from developmental activities and/or other drivers of change.

WMU Associate Research Officer, Dr Khanssa Lagdami delivered a presentation on the subject of "International Maritime Conventions to Avoid and Tackle Oil Spills". In her presentation, Dr. Lagdami emphasized the benefits of regional cooperation and the importance of the adequate implementation at the national level of the relevant IMO conventions, including the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention), as well as the role played by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

In a presentation titled “International Maritime Conventions on Liability and Compensation (for Oil Pollution),” WMU Associate Professor, Dr Aref Fakhry, spoke of the “polluter pays principle,” which is part of international law. He provided an overview of the status of ratification of and accession to the most recent international instruments on the subject of liability and compensation for ship-source pollution damage, including ships’ bunkers. Dr Fakhry highlighted the fundamental role of the IMO, together with the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund of 1992 and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Supplementary Fund, 2003.

Additional presentations during the workshop covered some of the more technical and operational aspects of oil pollution preparedness and response, as well as ecosystem remedial measures.

Dr Farhan Muhassin Al-Fartussi, Director General of the General Company for Ports of Iraq, said that Iraq was resolved to enhance the level of environmental protection in the ports under its jurisdiction, and took very seriously any best practices that could be availed of in the field.

Among the participants who addressed the workshop were H.E. Eng. Essam M Al-Ammari, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to IMO, and Dr Ali Abbas Khayoon, Alternate Permanent Representative of Iraq to IMO, Maritime Attaché of Iraq in London, who is a WMU alumnus.

The workshop drew large participation both in situ and remotely by video link. It was designed and overseen by WMU Alumnus Mr Mohamed Al-Shawi (MSEA Class of 2019), Manager of the Marine Environment Department at the General Company for Ports of Iraq.

With regard to the event, WMU President, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, noted that through WMU’s impressive network of alumni and excellent relationships with the maritime world, the University is at the forefront in providing its assistance to countries around the world in the assessment and improvement of performance on all aspects of maritime governance, including marine environmental protection. In addition, WMU has the capacity to provide multilingual expertise, as in this instance WMU’s speakers gave their presentations in Arabic, which was the language of the workshop.

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